A hidden cost of lockdowns?

The University of Auckland released:

A study of Ministry of Health data has shown that Covid19 lockdowns significantly increased mental distress in NZ children.

The study, published in the international Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, shows that attempted suicides in NZ children aged 10-14 years increased from a baseline of 40 per month to a peak of 90 per month following the lockdowns in 2020.

Lead researchers Dr Gerhard Sundborn and Professor Cameron Grant reviewed the last 5 years of monthly counts of hospital diagnoses for children aged 10–14 years from the Ministry of Health, with classification codes for parasuicide (attempted suicide) for all New Zealand. The data included counts from mid-2015 to the end of 2020.

This is a sad reminder that lockdowns take not just an economic toll, but a mental toll.

This is not an argument against the lockdowns. They are what I call a necessary evil. It would have been worse to have thousands dying and hospitals unable to cope. But it is a reminder they do impose a cost, and once everyone eligible has had the chance to be vaccinated, we should lift them.

I’m not surprised by the data. I have found the second lockdown to be much tougher on my mental health than the first one. The way I fight off unhappiness is having things to look forward to, and with lockdowns you can’t be planning or doing activities with the kids – camping, tramping, orienteering, holidays etc. So I’ve really struggled the last few weeks.

Even Level 2 takes an impact (far less than poor Aucklanders in Level 3 or 4 though). I hate wearing a mask. I spend half the time taking my fogged up glasses on and off. I’ve also not realised how important facial contact is to me. At playgrounds I normally interact with other parents and kids by smiling at them as our kids start playing together etc. When you’re wearing a mask, other people can’t see you’re smiling or being friendly, and you tend to have much less interaction.

So let’s hope NZ gets back to Level 1 soon, and everyone who wants to be vaccinated and is eligible gets both shots, so we can have some return to normalcy.

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